Epilogue

Forks, Washington, Christmas 2012

I've never claimed to be a perfect parent. But, with a daughter like Renesmee, it was never really something that I needed to worry about. In fact, in her short six years, the one thing she has ever given Edward and myself any real trouble with was the issue she had with attending an actual school.

Just for the record, forcing my daughter to go to school did make me a perfect parent.

In the four months it has been since she started at Forks High School, I haven't heard a single word of complaint from her about having to go there since her last attempt to get out of it on her very first day. In fact, all she seems to do is talk about how much she loves it—not exactly a normal teenager's response, I realize, but I never claimed my daughter was normal. Accustomed to spending all of her time with vampires and the occasional werewolf, Renesmee never knew what being a normal teenager was like until Edward and I made her go to school.

Of course, this whole experience did end up leading us to the one day Edward has been dreading ever since our daughter was born. So maybe I'm still not quite the perfect parent…

Flashback

First day of school—afternoon

"Momma!" Renesmee exclaimed, practically bursting through the front door. "We're home!"

I had heard their approach a while ago, but looked up from the book I had been reading when Renesmee announced her presence. Not far behind her, Edward and Emma were just entering the house. I smiled expectantly at my daughter.

"How was your first day?" I asked her calmly. Judging from the wide smile on her face, I was sure I wasn't wrong to think that it had gone well.

"It was wonderful," Renesmee said, collapsing onto the couch beside me as Edward went to the kitchen with Emma, to get her an after-school snack. "I made friends. Real, actual friends."

"I told you that you would," I reminded her, smiling lightly. "What are their names?"

"Actually," Renesmee said, "The two I talked to the most today were your friend Angela's brothers: Isaac and Joshua. I guess she really did tell them to look for me, like she said she would. They were so nice to me."

It was at that point that the door opened once more and Jacob entered. I had heard his approach, but I had been too glad that Renesmee really had enjoyed her first day of school to change the subject.

"Who was nice?" Jacob asked, making himself comfortable in one of the chairs across from the couch we were sitting on.

"Josh and Isaac," Renesmee replied promptly. "They're my new friends. They showed me around the school and the introduced me to people. And I have math and history with Josh, and homeroom and English with Isaac, so they each sat next to me in those classes. I guess you were right, momma, school isn't so bad after all."

End Flashback

Were I not Renesmee's mother, I'm sure I would have found the events that followed Renesmee's announcement rather entertaining. After all, it's not often I see Jacob getting jealous about the fact that Renesmee only new friends appear to be "two hormonal teenage boys," as he later complained to me out of her earshot.

Either way, as time passed and Renesmee became closer to all of her new friends, she also became closer to Jacob. And, to put it simply, Edward and I have always been less than fond of the fact that a werewolf imprinted on our daughter mere moments after her birth. And now…well, like I said before, the day that we've both secretly been dreading for the past six years has finally arrived. On the plus side, though, we're quite adamant about Renesmee being our responsibility until she turns eighteen for real, never mind the fact that she'll technically be fully mature in just another short year.

Funnily enough, the one person who seems to be the most pleased with this recent turn of events is actually Emma, who, up until now, hasn't really seemed to really like Jacob very much (thus leading Rose to dote on her even more). Of course, that's probably because Renesmee gave her five dollars, as Emma won the bet the two of them made about Jacob becoming Renesmee's boyfriend.

Having Emma in our lives has certainly been an interesting experience. If anything, she makes us just the tiniest bit more human, and that is because she is entirely human, and only six years old. Never before have Edward and I appreciated just how easy it was to raise Renesmee—and how quickly she grew up. But the fact remains that we all love having Emma in our lives, even while we do regret the way she came to us.

"What are you thinking about?" Edward had come over to where I was standing, looking out of the window out into the snow-covered forest.

"Just a few things," I replied, the majority of my attention focused on him now, rather than my thoughts.

"What kind of things?" He asked with a smile.

"Renesmee and Jacob," I admitted. Edward's expression shifted to a frown and, across the room where he and Rose were playing a game with Emma that she had gotten earlier as a present, Emmett let out a low chuckle that was too soft for a human to hear. Through the reflection in the window, I saw Rose elbow him sharply in the side and his attention returned to their game. "But Emma, too. Mostly Emma, actually."

"Ms. Nivell said she was adjusting quite nicely," Edward felt the need to remind me.

About two months ago, at the end of October, after Emma had been with us for about two months, Ms. Nivell, Emma's social worker, had completed her last home visit. She had conducted several visits to see how Emma was settling in over those two months, and at her last one she had told us how pleased she was with Emma's progress and how well she seemed to fit in with our family. Later, after she had gone, Edward also shared with me that she had secretly also been extremely relieved that we were so able to cope with having a second child thrust upon us at such a young age.

"I know," I replied slowly, finally turning to look at him. "But…I was thinking…do you think we'll have to tell her one day? Tell her the truth, I mean?"

"I suppose we might," Edward said just as slowly. "It would be unfair to cut ourselves out of her life; she doesn't deserve to lose anyone else. And," His hesitation was so brief I almost didn't notice it, "She is family. We can't just leave her like that."

"I'd never want to leave her either," I reassured him. As Emma was the last living link he had to his sister, I had guessed he might feel that way, and I would whole-heartedly support him. "But what about the Volturi?"

"They're only an issue if they find out about her," Edward stated. "And it should really only be a problem if Emma really does know the truth."

"In a few more years it will be pretty hard to hide it from her for much longer," I pointed out.

"I don't think we should waste any more time worrying about that until it actually becomes an issue," Edward said firmly. "We should just enjoy all of our time as a family while we can."

I couldn't help but smile at him here. "You're right, we should. And you can start by going to see what on Earth Carlisle and Esme are doing in the kitchen. They sound like they're having entirely too much fun in there to be doing anything productive like cooking an actual meal."

"I'd say it's more like they're being entirely too over-productive," Edward said with his own grin. "But as you wish, Mrs. Cullen."

And, with an overly-ornate bow full of unnecessary flourishes, Edward turned and made his way into the kitchen. Rolling my eyes at his antics, I turned fully now so that the entire room was in my view.

Over on the couch, Renesmee was sitting with her feet tucked under her, having a quiet conversation with Charlie. While, at the other end, Alice was stretched out, seemingly asleep, with her feet on Jasper's lap as he read a book about the Civil War, of all things. Jacob, meanwhile, really was asleep behind the couch. He had spent the night running patrol before spending Christmas morning with his dad, Rachel, and Paul, and then coming here to have dinner. Miraculously, for once he wasn't snoring.

As Esme finally came out to announce the everyone could come out into the dining room to eat, Rosalie carefully aimed a game piece at the sleeping Jacob and he awoke with a start. Renesmee quickly led him to the dining room before he could retaliate, though.

"Come sit next to me Bella!" Emma ran over to where I was still standing and took my hand. Together we made our way to the table. "I want to tell you all about my game!"

As Emma chattered on cheerfully about how her game of Monopoly Junior was going (unsurprisingly, Emmett and Rosalie appeared to be letting her win), Rosalie and Jacob argued rather amicably at the other end of the table about how rude they each thought the other was, while Charlie quietly filled his plate with food, steadfastly ignoring the fact that the Cullens were mostly moving the food around on their own plates rather than actually eating it. I couldn't help but smile at all of this.

This was my family.

I can freely admit that being a parent was never really in my long-term plan for my future. But now that I have Renesmee and Emma, I wouldn't give it up for anything.

I know that one day we might have to reveal the truth to Emma about vampires and werewolves; it's not something we'll be able to hide from her forever. But, with the Volturi, it's not something we'll just be allowed to tell her, never mind that she is technically our daughter now. We'll cross that bridge when we eventually come to it, however. For now, I'll follow Edward's advice and stop worrying about it. After all, I might have all of eternity to live, but once a day passes, I'll never be able to get it back. And I, for one, fully intend to enjoy every single second I have with my family.